An island of stunning natural beauty, Tahiti is a gateway to cruises of French Polynesia and the rest of the South Pacific. Tahiti is often the starting point for cruises that call on island destinations like Bora Bora, Fiji, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands and more.
If your schedule allows, it’s worth spending some additional time in Tahiti before or after your cruise. The island is formed by two volcanic peaks connected by a slender isthmus. The northern portion is Tahiti Nui (“big Tahiti”) and the southern is Tahiti Iti (“small Tahiti”). Tahiti Nui includes the port of Papeete, which feels like a bit of Paris transported to the South Pacific. You’ll find charming sidewalk cafés along the main boulevard, a bustling market, and chic boutiques selling wines, crafts and the famous Tahitian black pearls. Before you buy, you may want to educate yourself by visiting the Robert Wan Pearl museum, dedicated to one jewel – the pearl, of course.
Tahiti Iti is more sparsely populated, and a drive along the coastal road offers views of waterfalls, caves and archeological sites where you can see petroglyphs and the remains of sacred temples.
Everywhere you go on Tahiti, you’ll see the gorgeous views that inspired artists and writers like Paul Gaugin and James Norman Hall, author of Mutiny on the Bounty. There are a variety of beaches to enjoy, some covered with soft black volcanic sand.
Dining in Tahiti is a delight, with fresh seafood often prepared with French flair. Choose a romantic fine-dining restaurant beside the water, or visit one of Papeete’s food carts for a serving of the Tahitian specialty poisson cru – raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk. Papeete has a lively nightlife scene, and you may be lucky enough to see the famous otea, the classic Tahitian dance that features fast hip-shaking to the rhythm of pounding drums.
To learn more about how you can combine time in Tahiti with a cruise of the South Pacific, talk with your personal cruise expert.